“It’s not me it’s the data”

“This report is different to that report, I’m going to quote the bigger sales figure”

“But I don’t know how we are performing, the data is wrong”

“But I can’t do anything about our poor performance, the data is wrong”

These are just some of the excuses I hear on a regular basis.  Management can not ‘manage’ without data, but what they also do is use data as a smoke screen.  It is very easy to create fog around performance issues by blaming the data.  It’s often the first line of defence.

Thanks to the great corporate blame culture data has a tendency to come back and bite you on the ass!

So what can we do about it?

Get on the ‘front-foot’ with your data consumers

The most obvious initial task is to make sure that your data is squeaky clean, and without reproach.  Be 100% confident in what you provide, and if required, be able to explain away any discrepancies between data entities.

How do we get to the point where we trust our data?

There are a couple of key points that I make to my teams on data provision.

  • We must ensure that we provide data within a clearly defined context and definition, nicely wrapped up for the relevant data consumers.
  • We must have the data governance processes in place that ensure that our data is as clean as possible and that quality is monitored constantly.
  • Any discrepancies in reports must be captured and explained away through context or corrected.
  • Get the data consumers to agree that the data is correct, get their buy-in.
  • We must be 100% confident in our data, and ready to defend it at all times, don’t show any weakness when confronted about it.

Trust the data you provide!

If you trust your data, you will be able to get on the front foot with your data consumers.  Being on the front foot is the best form of defence in data provision.  It allows you to clear the fog that the consumers spout about data, and the more often you do that, they more the consumers start to trust your data, or at the very least, stop using it as a smoke screen to bad performance.

Have trust in the data you provide, don’t let it bite you on the ass!